Portsmouth February 2021 review - Optimism for the end of lockdown while fourth time was the charm for happy couple determined to tie the knot

CORONAVIRUS continued to dominate the headlines in February.

Monday, 27th December 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 11:56 am
Portsmouth lockdown weddings 1: 24.10.20.

The jab rollout brought new hope to the city as the success of phase two of the vaccination programme eased the pandemic’s toll on those shielding from the virus.

With vaccine numbers rising, The News reported that infection rates were beginning to fall.

As Boris Johnson set out a plan to ease England’s lockdown by June 21, the prime minister promised that ‘the end really is in sight’.

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The Portsmouth NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Centre at Hamble House based at St James Hospital opened on Monday, February 1. Pictured is: Diane Senior (74) from Cosham, having her vaccination. Picture: Sarah Standing (010221-1944)

Shops and salons looked forward to the end of lockdown, with businesses rejoicing over the promised ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.

At the same time, tourist chiefs were hard at work on the ‘Put the Wind in Your Sails’ campaign, ready to welcome back visitors to give Portsmouth’s tourism industry a much-needed boost.

Festival-goers’ hopes were rising that the roadmap out of lockdown would see the return of Victorious on Southsea Common in the summer.

Portsmouth City Council unveiled The Guildhall as a new base for rapid testing, while school bosses campaigned for the February half term to be used as an ‘ideal opportunity’ to immunise staff ahead of reopening to pupils.

Portsmouth Covid Breach CAPTION: Police broke up a large house party in St Chad's Avenue, North End, overnight on January 30-31 2021. Picture: Hampshire police

Headteachers looked forward to the planned return of pupils to school, but spoke out about their fears that a ‘rushed return’ would cause another surge in infections.

This cautious optimism for Portsmouth’s future was balanced against the blows that the pandemic continued to strike across the area.

Former submariner Les, 97, was allowed to be with his beloved wife Jean, 93, when she succumbed to the virus. They were married for 74 years.

Michael McCann, 25, from Poole in Dorset befriended a Southsea woman in her 70s and over several months charged her £140,000 for bogus maintenance work. Picture: Hampshire police

Despite the lockdown, police saw a rise in gatherings and house parties, with data obtained by The News showing that reported breaches were happening at a rate of about 90 a day on average.

Meanwhile, a conspiracy theorist who made social media posts claiming that the NHS was not being over-run by Covid patients was banned from all hospitals.

After trying to film patients and staff at QA, 30-year-old Fareham woman Hannah Dean was slammed with an Asbo-style community protection notice banning her from entering NHS premises without an appointment.

In crime news, a rogue trader condemned for his ‘especially cruel’ behaviour was jailed for charming an elderly woman out of her £140,000 life savings.

Professor Greta Westwood, chief executive of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, who has returned to Queen Alexandra Hospital to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: Florence Nightingale Foundation

In another February headline, a pair were branded ‘bullies’ following a violent attack captured on video and spread on social media.

The pair had kicked and stamped on their victim in an argument concerning laughing gas.

The News reported that a new police scheme was being launched to help sex workers across the county falling into modern slavery.

Southsea Common attackers. Left, Minnie-Mo Hunt outside Portsmouth Crown Court on 1 February 2020 and right, a picture issued by Hampshire Constabulary of Daisy Hunt. Minnie-Mo was given an 18-month suspended sentence for the attack on Rebecca Grant, and Daisy Hunt was sentenced to three years in prison

Despite February’s challenges, love was in the chilly Portsmouth air as Valentine’s Day rolled around.

Determined to overcome lockdowns’ challenges, happy Gosport couple Ruth and Ollie Peck finally managed to tie the knot despite having to change plans for their big day four times.

Pictured: Hannah Dean A mother of two who posted photos of empty wards and claimed the government was lying about the extent of the pandemic has today been banned from visiting all hospitals. Hannah Dean, 30, who was previously fined, now faces arrest and possible criminal prosecution if she ignores an Asbo-style community protection notice. Police today confirmed she can only visit a hospital in an emergency, for a booked appointment or if she is a dependent of a patient. Fines of up to £2,500 could be issued by the courts if she is convicted of breaching the notice and she is also banned from encouraging others to flout national coronavirus lockdown restrictions. SEE OUR COPY FOR DETAILS © Solent News & Photo Agency UK +44 (0) 2380 458800
Les and Jean Hanks who had been married for 74 years but sadly died of Covid in Queen Alexandra Hospital just two days apart.